Road Traffic Offences

Questions (194)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

194. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will seek a report from An Garda Síochána in respect of the enforceability of road traffic legislation or any other legislation in respect of quad bikes which are driven dangerously on private land by children and persons without a licence and causing serious noise pollution to nearby residents; if he will seek an explanation from An Garda Síochána as to the reason local gardaí report to residents that they are unable to tackle this issue using existing legislation while consistent advice to Government from Garda management has been that current legislation is adequate; the specific powers available to gardaí to enforce the law in such circumstances; and if he has any proposals to bring forward further proposals in the short term. [18465/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am aware of the issues which have been raised concerning the off-road use of the vehicles referred to, in locations such as parks and other open spaces, and in particular in the context of the recent debate in this House on the Misuse of Motor Vehicles (Public Spaces) Bill 2012. Arising from this I have sought a report from the Garda authorities and will consult further with other relevant Departments concerning any legislative or other issues which arise.

Magdalen Laundries

Questions (195)

Martin Heydon

Question:

195. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an update on the progress in dealing with cases under the Magdalen restorative justice scheme; the number of cases currently being dealt with; if any cases have been concluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18488/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can confirm that 731 applications have been received to date, with 366 letters of formal offer issued. So far, 305 of the applicants have accepted the formal offer and 277 payments have issued at a cost of €10.3 million. A provisional assessment on the applicant's length of stay in a relevant institution has been made in a further 65 cases.

The remaining cases require further investigation and are being processed as quickly as possible.

Within my Department, a unit of 9 officials is working full time on engaging with the women and processing applications. They are available to answer any queries the women may have in relation to the scheme.

Magdalen Laundries

Questions (196, 197)

Martin Heydon

Question:

196. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of cases of Magdalen survivors from Stanhope Street that are being processed under the Magdalen restorative justice scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18492/14]

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Martin Heydon

Question:

197. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the lack of files being provided by the Sisters of Mercy from Stanhope Street is affecting those former residents of Stanhope Street in making applications under the Magdalen restorative justice scheme; if there will be an appeals mechanism for those cases if there is a negative response to an application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18493/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 196 and 197 together.

I can confirm that 103 applications have been received relating to St Mary's Training Centre, Stanhope Street. Twenty have received their lump sum payment and a further 8 have received letters of formal offer. Provisional assessments of the applicant's length of stay in St Mary's Training Centre, Stanhope Street have been made in a further 12 cases.

The remaining cases require further investigation. As with all of the specified institutions, if the relevant religious congregation has no clear record, my officials will carry out a thorough examination checking whatever records are available to support the claim. The application forms requested applicants to consent to the provision of personal information to my Department by any Government Department, agency, health or educational institution and the religious congregations for the purpose of verification in relation to their application. The applicant will also be asked to provide any relevant information that could corroborate her claim that she was in a specific institution for a period of time.

My officials will make an assessment on the basis of the records and statements available as to whether, on the balance of probabilities, the applicant was admitted to and worked in one of the 12 institutions covered by the scheme.

The provisional assessment will be set out in a letter to the applicant. If the applicant accepts the provisional assessment made, a letter of formal offer will issue to her. If the applicant disagrees with the assessment she can, in the first instance, request her case to be reviewed by an officer of a higher grade. If she is still not satisfied with the decision of the reviewer, it can be appealed to the Ombudsman's Office.

Insolvency Service of Ireland

Questions (198)

Michael McGrath

Question:

198. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is planning any change to the rules governing the insolvency service in view of the low uptake to date and the fact that certain banks have said they will veto any deal that involves a write down of mortgage debt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18498/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

During the course of the past year the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) has overseen the introduction of the new alternatives to bankruptcy introduced by the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 - the Debt Relief Notice (DRN), the Debt Settlement Arrangement (DSA) and the Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA), as well as a reformed bankruptcy regime. As a result, insolvent debtors now have viable options available to them to deal with their indebtedness. The availability of these options has encouraged creditors and debtors to reach settlements through informal arrangements. While the key statistics published by the ISI at the end of March 2014 are lower than expected, the number of new cases which have entered the system since the beginning of the year and feedback received by ISI from the Personal Insolvency Practitioners and Approved Intermediaries suggest that the uptake of formal insolvency arrangements will increase significantly. The development by ISI of protocols between creditors and practitioners covering DSAs and PIAs are expected to assist in that regard. I am aware of recent comments made by certain banks regarding mortgage debt. From the outset, I have stated that the personal insolvency legislation is not set in stone and that I will introduce whatever amendments prove to be necessary to ensure its success. Indeed, I have already introduced a number of useful technical amendments during 2013. I can assure the Deputy that my Department and the ISI will continue to keep the effectiveness of the legislation under review and any necessary amendments will be introduced when required.

Personal Insolvency Practitioners

Questions (199)

Michael McGrath

Question:

199. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of registered personal insolvency practitioners by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18502/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can advise the Deputy that there are a total of 132 Personal Insolvency Practitioners (PIPs) currently authorised by the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI). Details are set out in the following table.

As I have previously indicated, the number of Practitioners authorised, along with a breakdown of the geographic location of each Practitioner is publically available on the Register of Personal Insolvency Practitioners on the ISI's website, www.isi.gov.ie. I would encourage everyone to consult that page in order to get the latest information in future.

County

Number

Co. Cavan

1

Co. Clare

3

Co. Cork

13

Co. Donegal

7

Co. Dublin

45

Co. Galway

13

Co. Kerry

7

Co. Kildare

6

Co. Laois

1

Co. Limerick

4

Co. Longford

2

Co. Louth

7

Co. Mayo

2

Co. Meath

3

Co. Monaghan

1

Co. Offaly

3

Co. Sligo

1

Co. Tipperary

4

Co. Waterford

2

Co. Westmeath

2

Co. Wexford

2

Co. Wicklow

3

Total

132

Personal Insolvency Act

Questions (200)

Michael McGrath

Question:

200. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of proposed personal insolvency arrangements that were rejected by a majority of creditors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18503/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The ISI is unable to provide the details requested by the Deputy as the information is beyond the scope of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012, as amended.

Under the Personal Insolvency Act 2012, as amended, there is no obligation on Personal Insolvency Practitioners to inform the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) of the outcome of any vote taken at a creditors meeting, if rejected, as the process terminates at that point in the normal course.

Neither does the legislation require that the ISI be made aware of the details of discussions with creditors, either before a creditors meeting takes place, or once a vote is taken and lost.

Immigrant Investor Programme Data

Questions (201)

Michael McGrath

Question:

201. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of applications for residency here received based on the extension of criteria for investors in budget 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18506/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The proposed extension to the Immigrant Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP), to which the Deputy refers, applies to Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS). The arrangements for inclusion of REITS, including minimum levels of investment, and the application of the rules and principles of the IIP to what is a publicly tradeable investment, are currently being finalised. Accordingly no applications have yet been received.

Defence Forces Personnel

Questions (202)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

202. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Defence his views on the situation whereby enlisted personnel under the rank of sergeant are unable to continue service after 21 years; if he will consider allowing enlisted personnel to reach their maximum pension of 31 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18402/14]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The unsatisfactory age and fitness profile of the Permanent Defence Force was an issue of serious concern during the 1990s and was the subject of severe criticism by a series of external reports, mainly Price Waterhouse Consultants and the Efficiency Audit Group (EAG). One of the key areas identified for urgent action by the EAG was the development of a manpower policy with an emphasis on lowering the age profile of Permanent Defence Force personnel. The EAG's report was accepted by Government in 1995.

In an effort to alleviate the situation, the Government had already decided in 1993 to enlist personnel on a five year contract basis, following consultation with Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association (PDFORRA). In 1997 agreement was reached with PDFORRA on a new manpower policy for the Defence Forces. This policy, applying to personnel enlisted after 1 January 1994, provided that service for Private Soldiers would initially be for five years with the option to be extended to a maximum of twelve years, subject to meeting standards of medical and physical fitness and conduct. Longer periods of service were envisaged for Non Commissioned Officers.

In 2004 PDFORRA submitted a claim under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for a further review of the terms of service applying to personnel enlisting in the Permanent Defence Force after 1 January, 1994. A set of criteria was agreed with PDFORRA to provide longer careers for those who enlisted post 1 January 1994 while continuing to address the Government's objective of having an appropriate age profile to meet the challenges of a modern Defence Forces. The criteria require that any person re-engaging after 12 years service must be able to continue to operate at their current level both at home and overseas on an ongoing basis. Re-engagement is subject to the individual soldier meeting specified criteria in regard to physical fitness, medical category, successful completion of military courses of instruction, service overseas and conduct ratings. The maximum service period for these personnel is as follows:-

- Enlisted Personnel, up to and including the rank of Corporal (and equivalent Naval Service rank), may not serve beyond 21 years service.

- Enlisted Personnel, in the rank of Sergeant (and equivalent Naval Service rank), may be permitted to continue in service up to the age of fifty years.

- Enlisted Personnel in all higher ranks may serve to the age of fifty-six. With the approach of 2015 the first effects of the agreement, whereby Privates and Corporals may not serve beyond 21 years, will be felt by Permanent Defence Force members in those ranks. A claim has been received from PDFORRA for a further review in relation to this matter. In accordance with normal procedures the Association's claim is being dealt with under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force. As discussions under the Scheme are confidential to the parties involved it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the matter at this time, other than to emphasise that in dealing with this issue the manpower and operational needs of the Defence Forces must be the primary consideration.